February 11, 2012
Our 2011 Honda Odyssey definitely does not want to run out of gasoline. When the fuel level gets to that magic point you won't miss it. A yellow light illuminates near the fuel gauge. Another warning "i" above the speedometer directs your attention to the information display. There you get a "fuel low" picture warning.
So at what point does this become excessive?
Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager
January 21, 2012
As you'd expect, the 2011 Honda Odyssey has a nice, functional, analog gauge pack (plus a digital trip computer) that provides all the information you really need to know while you're driving. There's nothing overdone about its design, but these partial gray gauge faces add a dash of style -- a subtle touch to keep you from from falling completely into the minivan abyss of Uggs and elasticized waists.
January 12, 2012
I spent the last half of December driving our Sienna and then the first half of this month driving our Odyssey. It was 30 days of both bliss and malaise.
The bliss part is simple. The minivan is the hands-down, ultimate family vehicle. It kicks ass like Schwarzenegger kicked ass in Commando. There's space for everything. The power sliding doors and power liftgate are super convenient. The seating is highly configurable. There's comfortable room for adults in the third row. There's loads of storage space. If you have kids (like I do), it truly is a luxury to own and drive a minivan. Life is just easier this way.
Malaise is harder to pin down. But it seeps into your soul after days and weeks of constant minivan-ness. The minivan is big. It's boxy. It will have kid safety seats permanently installed. All of your crap will be floating and rolling around inside because you're too tired to clean it out and, well, there's still space to sit, right? It can become like a redneck front lawn inside.
December 10, 2011
Cupholder blog entries are boring, but you wouldn't want to buy a minivan that had bad cupholders. Our 2011 Odyssey Touring doesn't have bad ones. What's most impressive about these two in the center console is the range of cupsizes they can securely hold, thanks to their large rubber tabs.
On the left, you have a standard width coffee to-go cup in a cardboard cozy. It's stable here and the coffee (Tanzania Peaberry) didn't splash.
On the right, you have an allegedly BPA-free Nalgene bottle that really shouldn't fit in any vehicle's cupholder. But it does. That means a bottle of wine would be secure there, too.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor
December 03, 2011
I had occasion to remove the second-row seats from our 2011 Honda Odyssey the other day. Turns out the process was rather easy. There was an unexpected surprise once I unclipped the seats from the floor brackets...
November 29, 2011
Here I sit waiting in line outside my daughter's high school in the 2011 Honda Odyssey. I'm suddenly realizing the middle row's middle jump seat is installed, and it's going to have to come out before my daughter and her friends appear. These adult-sized kids will need the walk-through center aisle to help them clamber into the third row with their backpacks and such.
Fine, it comes out in a jiffy. But where do I put it? In the Sienna there's a compartment for it in the left-rear wall of the cargo area. No so here in the Odyssey. This heavier (and, it should be said, more comfortable) seat has a bulky floor attachment mechanism that leaves no real place for it but the garage.
But by the time I get to my garage, I'll have dropped off my daughter's friends and the "crisis" will be history. I'll get by this time because the cargo well happens to be empty, but there's no adequate way to tie the big lump down.
If I had my choice I'd invert this scenario and leave the aisleway clear all the time, keeping the jump seat handy so I can quickly snap it in place when needed. Score one for the on-board storage strategy of the Toyota Sienna.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 16,901 miles
November 08, 2011
Warning: Girly post alert
The Honda Odyssey has a purse hook on the front passenger side. My 20-lb bag full of cameras, phones, assorted eye glasses and cables would probably snap it right off.
But I guess if you were carting around a van full of little ones, it could also serve as a plastic bag holder for assorted trash, empty juice boxes, or a makeshift barf bag.
November 03, 2011
I always like cars (and vans) that have a huge range of steering-wheel telescope adjustment, because I can track the seat back to accommodate my longish inseam and still have the steering wheel close, so I can hold it NASCAR-style with my arms bent at nearly 90 degrees.
Our long-term 2011 Honda Odyssey lets me do this so I am automatically a fan.
October 27, 2011
Question: What's one thing that big fancy luxury sedans and diaper-laden minivans have in common? Answer after the jump.
October 14, 2011
Believe it or not, there are people who've managed to go almost their entire lives without ever parking butt in a minivan, and it can be interesting to see how these non-minivan people react when dropped into the belly of a relentlessly functional people-mover like our Honda Odyssey.
A couple of friends with almost zero minivan experience recently spent some time in the Odyssey's second row. While they weren't bowled over by the minivan's sheet metal, they had some good things to say about the second row, which impressed them for three primary reasons...
October 14, 2011
Our long-term 2011 Honda Odyssey Touring has small portholes in the A-pillars. These are getting more common today.
You can see that the amount of glass and the size of the opening are rather small. But by allowing you to see through that area of the A-pillar and the mirror housing, that small window conveys a sensation of even greater visibility than what is actually seen by your eyes.
Without that porthole, that A-pillar would appear overly thick with a subjectively big blindspot. In the pic you can even see that fire hydrant at 1 o'clock of the driving position. Without the small window...it's gone.
What if you were turning and that hydrant was instead -- a child.
What do you think? Do you see the value?
Albert Austria, Senior VE Engineer @ 14,500 miles
October 12, 2011
When you think of minivan features, you typically think of the practical, family-friendly stuff. Sliding doors, a zillion cupholders, blah blah blah.
But on a day like today when the sun's back out after a recent rainy spell, the feature I appreciated the most wasn't practical at all. I'm talking about that sunroof (standard equipment on Odyssey EX-L, Touring and Touring Elite trims). Not panoramic or anything, but certainly big enough to offer a welcome glimpse of those clear blue skies.
Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor
October 06, 2011
"Just lay back. No. Not that far."
"This is worse."
"No, no...you're too far back. Lean forward."
Leg 1 of our not-quite-a-road-trip 170-mile trek was complete and, after a few hours on a track, four of us were headed back to LA in our 2011 Honda Odyssey and the above conversation made its way to the front seat of the Odyssey.
"What's happening back there? Can you hear them? Shoud I get the hose?"
I guess we should probably start at the beginning of this story...
I had grabbed the keys to the most sensible vehicle possible for the trip while the other guys had managed the keys to the Volt and the 911. The 911 driver had intended, along with our photo guru Kurt Niebuhr, to take the fun route while the Volt driver, Riswick, and I would carpool on the highway enjoying a quiet morning of coffee and not vomiting from carsicknenss before 5am. We were still, at this point, in fierce debate between the Volt and the Odyssey.
But then the rain happened and the 911 driver wussed out. Something about not wanting to be damp all day. That made the carpool decision that much easier and since I'd been smart about car choice, I got to drive. Four guys in a car that seats 42 (8 actually) shouldn't be a problem at all.
From the driver seat the Odyssey is pretty great: Solid visibility, good power, accurate steering, comfy seat, logical controls. All the stuff we've talked about before in the blog and when we gave the Odyssey the win over the 2011 Toyota Sienna XLE. I felt as fresh after 90 minutes of driving as I did after 9 minutes.
From the backseat, though, things weren't quite as refreshing. Above the clacking of helmets from the hatch, one of our editors, let's call him Mark Takahashi, could not figure out how to get comfortable. "I wished the seat cushion had some adjustments. It wasn't comfortable reclining because I felt like I'd slide off the seat," he later said. Now, it's possible that at 5'10, an adult and fresh out of some race-prepped cars, Mark wasn't the ideal rear-seat tester. Those of us in the front seats had endured the same back-breaking day and were thrilled to be lounging in the supportive, heated front buckets.
The other issue we encountered was that rear seat passengers and front seat passengers had a difficult time communicating. This isn't uncommon, especially in vehicles with such massive interior spaces (148.5 cu-ft of space behind the first row), but the Honda-spec road noise levels make inter-row communication like trying to talk to someone who's across the aisle on an airplane. You can manage it, but after a while, you just don't want to bother anymore. Mark and Kurt had their conversations, James and I had ours.
Nobody wants their kids comfortable or to know what they're talking about anyways, do they?
Mike Magrath, Features Editor, Edmunds.com
September 27, 2011
Yesterday I mentioned that the Oldham family and our long-term Odyssey spent the weekend in the desert oasis of La Quinta, CA. What I didn't mention is that La Quinta is actually just east of the surface of the sun. Summer is long gone, but it's still 110 degrees in the Coachella Valley.
The good news is that the Honda's air conditioning had no trouble keeping up. Even if we climbed in the big van after it heat soaked in the sun for hours, it cooled itself off quickly.
I remember when Honda's air conditioning systems had trouble cooling you off on a winter day. No more.
Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief
September 26, 2011
Weekends, like minivans, are about family. Which is why I grabbed the keys to our long-term 2011 Honda Odyssey Touring on Friday.
Within hours it was packed full with kids, wife and dog. Destination? Grandma's house. Grandma lives about 150 mile due east of our Santa Monica office in the sleepy desert community of La Quinta, CA, population 41,092 people and about twice as many golf courses.
The Odyssey as expected was ideal for the trip. It hauled the Oldhams there and back in perfect comfort and allowed all six of us (sans pooch) to drive to a far off restaurant in just one car. Two full size adults made that drive happily in the Odyssey's third row. No complaints. In fact, the same two volunteered to ride back there after dinner for the trip home.
I also made two discoveries about the Odyssey that have only fueled my love affair with this van.
1) Its third row is easily accessed by flipping one lever and tilting a second row chair out of the way.
2) The driver can lock the temperature of the rear climate control, which keeps the kids from turning it up to 90 degrees (there's a secondary control in the headliner above the second row).
Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @ 12,806 miles
September 21, 2011
I was going through some of my old videos on my youtube channel and noticed the most viewed ever was an interior tour of the Chevy Cruze. So, I thought I'd do the same for some of the other cars as I drive them.
Last night, I drove home in the Honda Odyssey. After the jump, there is a tour of my favorite interior features. Enjoy.
July 12, 2011
I'd just like to point out that the rear accommodations in our Odyssey Touring are pretty stupendous. It almost seems like a waste as there's no way the typical passengers (bratty children) will appreciate it all.
This is what you get: Enough legroom and headroom for adults in both rows; sliding and reclining second-row seats; center-position rear seats that aren't compromised by transmission/exhaust humps or raised cushions; rear-zone automatic climate control with dual individual overhead vents for outboard passengers; cupholders galore; center armrests for both rows; outer armrests for the second row; and retractable sunshades for both rows.
Luxury sedans often get heaps of praise for their palatial backseats, but the latest Odyssey is pretty impressive, too.
May 11, 2011
Would you sleep here, in the back of a 2011 Honda Odyssey? I would.
Did, in fact.
April 25, 2011
This just in: Our Odyssey has a refrigerated bin where the dash meets the floor between the two front seats. It gets pretty cold in there.
I discovered this novel feature after looking for a place to store my Costanza wallet while parked over the weekend. Left it in there and, somehow, (likely my wife who fancies herself a real comedian or my daughter who likes illuminated buttons) the "cool box" was activated.
Sucker pumps out a mean cold front, quickly chilling the worn-out billfold to a fanny freezing 40 degrees or so. Perfect for a soda or a juice. But for a wallet? Not the best.
Josh Jacquot, Senior editor
April 21, 2011
Our long-term 2011 Honda Odyssey Touring has an IP (dash) mounted shifter right next to the center stack. But unlike our long-term Toyota Sienna SE (below), the Odyssey's shifter isn't gated.
So when I first drove this thing I was overshooting D by running the shifter down to the stop, ending up in L. I only noticed this by looking at the display in the meters. Now I know.
How about some cars you've driven? Is it easy to overshoot the D position?
Albert Austria, Senior VE Engineer @ ~4,600 miles
April 19, 2011
Some time ago I said the liftgate on our 2011 Toyota Sienna was too low. At 5 feet, 11 inches the Sienna creased my forehead numerous times during one week's worth of normal use. It only seemed fair to subject our 2011 Honda Odyssey to the same scrutiny.
I've been in the Honda for a week now, using it similarly and haven't struck the hatch to my cranium once. I thought that maybe I was one of those smart-types who learns his lesson from repeated brutal head trauma. Then I realized the Odyssey, at a shade over 6 feet, has a higher liftgate opening. It isn't much difference, but in my case it's just enough.
Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 4,215 miles
April 08, 2011
Our long-term 2011 Honda Odyssey Touring includes neither beverages nor ice.
But if you're thirsty, there's a place for your drinks in the front.
April 01, 2011
Yesterday, four of us climbed into the long-term 2011 Honda Odyssey Touring for a 10-mile trip up the coast to lunch. I ended up with the keys, which was good as I am a control freak, plus as noted previously, I've taken a real shine to the Odyssey.
We usually talk about how simple it is to get kids in and out of a minivan. Although all of us were able to buckle our own seatbelts, I was struck by the sheer personal space in this van. At no point did I worry about any of my passengers elbowing me, kicking my seat or otherwise disturbing my 72-degree climate-controlled bubble.
No surprise, really, since published shoulder- and hip room are competitive with other vans, while second-row legroom (40.9 inches) is best in class. I don't put a lot of stock in published specs (given varying measuring methods), but the Odyssey feels very roomy by minivan standards.
Also impressive was the van's quiet ride. Our speeds ranged between 45 mph and 70 mph, and at no time, did I have to raise my voice to talk to someone in the second row -- and I tend to be soft-spoken and mumbly. I was also able to hear the middle-seaters with no problem.
After the jump, you'll find out what the Honda's passengers -- Al Austria, Bryn MacKinnon and Carroll Lachnit -- were thinking as I drove.
Austria (sat in right rear, then right front): The IP (dash) materials weren't as good as I imagined. Good ride, comfortable, not as much 2nd-row legroom as I expected. And quick turn-in!!
MacKinnon (left rear): The exterior door handles seem really overly chunky and too futuristic. Second-row armrest is kinda ridiculously squishy.
Lachnit (right front, then right rear): I thought the 2nd row was plenty roomy (but Im short). Seats were comfortable. And boy, can it accelerate out of a tony Malibu shopping center ;)
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 8,220 miles
March 28, 2011
Got some quality seat time in the Odyssey this weekend and these two things jumped out at me. First, the gauges. I like them. They're not overly stuffed with too many icons and a hundred hash marks on every dial. Sure, I would prefer numbers on the temperature gauge and all, but this is a minivan after all. Honda delivered the basics and it is good.
And about that suspension. A little too soft for my tastes, and I say this based on the minivan marshmallow scale. No one wants a stiff, "sporty" ride in a family wagon like this, but the Odyssey always managed to bridge the gap between a precision feel and a comfortable ride quality.
Now it feels like Honda dialed back the precision a couple notches in favor of a little more cush. Maybe the average family will like it, but I don't. Just feels to detached for me. I think the Sienna might have the edge in this department now, at least the SE version.
Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com
March 18, 2011
Theres nothing mini about the modern minivan. This Odyssey measures almost 17 feet long, plus its wide and tall enough to blot out the sky.
The idea of driving one has to be pretty scary to a newbie.
But as I tell the minivan newbies I meet, theres nothing scary about driving the Odyssey. The Honda guys work hard to make sure that every one of their cars drives in a natural, intuitive way which makes you feel like a better driver.
Some of this comes from the rigorously formatted driving position, which is a model of great ergonomics. Some of it comes from the great field of view from the driver seat, something to which Honda also pays close attention. And part of it comes from the smooth, deliberate and predictable way the vehicle responds to the controls.
As a result, almost anyone can take the wheel of a Honda Odyssey and feel as if they were born to drive a minivan.
Of course, it would be great if they would stay out of the fast lane during my drive to work in the morning.
Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com
March 14, 2011
New for the 2011 Odyssey EX trims and above is this slick feature: a second-row jump seat that slides forward nearly six inches. Depending on reach, wingspan and seating position, the driver can grab the slider bar and yank the seat forward without turning around if necessary. And with two independent latch points, it's clearly made to shove emergency rations of Cheerios into the hands of a wailing child while on the go. Not that we'd encourage that kind of driving, but you know, theoretically, you could.
Turns out that a second row bench, or variation of, ranks high on The Wife's list of minivan priorities. This was news to me. I prefer the Nissan Quest's arrangement myself: two captain's chairs that fold flat and create a flat -- although elevated -- load floor. The Missus, on the other hand, thinks that dual captain's and a center console is a horribly inefficient use of perfectly good kidspace.
To get flat-floor function from the Odyssey, you have to pull all three second row seats (the third row folds flush into the floor). In that configuration, the Odyssey gives you more vertical space than the Quest, and one person can easily tumble, remove and haul out the Ody's seats. Still, I'll sacrifice the vert space for the Quest's convenience for camping, hauling the amps and drums, or converting to a metal palapa for summer beach days.
I'd also take the Quest's CVT over the Odyssey's busy transmission. Don't know what it is -- the new multi-discs in the torque converter's lock-up assembly, cylinder deactivation, hyper ECO calibrations -- but I could never find the Ody's sweet spot when driving around town. It requires a firm roll on throttle to respond, and when it does, it's a sequence of shudders, thumps and quick lurches of engine braking. I couldn't manage to keep it smooth in regular stoplight and stop-sign driving.
Could chalk it up to driver error, but I'm curious to hear what my colleagues think as the Ody makes the rounds.
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor @ almost 2,000 miles.
March 09, 2011
OK, warning, this is a blog entry about a very minor feature that only the fussiest minivan owner or prospective minivan owner is going to care about. I fall into the latter group.
The front armrests in our 2011 Honda Odyssey Touring ratchet. That is, you can set them into one of three positions. Although Honda does not delineate it on either its media or consumer site, not all 2011 Odysseys have this feature. For instance, the cloth upholstered Odyssey EX does not (you get only one armrest position and it's too low for me), so I could not let it win our recent minivan comparison test. Kidding. Maybe. Carry on with your evening.
March 08, 2011
One neat thing caught my eye as I was getting behind the wheel of the Odyssey last night: The front doors have not one, but two tiers of storage. Quite an unusual sight, I thought.
If doors were buses, the Odyssey's would be one of these things, and you don't see those puppies rolling down the boulevard every day.
The two bins are kinda substantial. The lower level of storage is also designed to accommodate a taller water bottle.
I wondered if maybe this was a minivan thing that I hadn't been aware of -- did the Toyota Sienna's doors also have two tiers? They don't (see below).
March 01, 2011
Yesterday I sang the Odyssey's praises. And I stand behind those words. But this morning I was cleaning out the van so it was tidy for the next editor and I found these scratches on the back of the center console and on the side plastic of the cargo area.
Considering the van only has 1,600 miles on it, I find this disappointing.